Older home on wooded lot
Retrofitting Older Homes

Retrofitting an older home: taking a staged approach

Many of you have indicated that you’d like to hear from us about retrofitting older homes, and we love that idea too. We know not everyone is in the market for a brand new home!

There are a lot of good reasons to address the comfort and energy efficiency of an older home, particularly if you live in a neighbourhood that you love and don’t wish to leave. Staying in place and fixing what’s not working about your older home could be a really smart decision.

Much of our audience is in the Ottawa area, and a lot of great neighbourhoods full of older homes spring to mind.

So what to do when your home is many decades old, drafty and dependent on steep energy bills to keep it cool in summer and warm in winter?

Getting Started

You could start with the basement, if it’s a space of livable dimensions and not a cellar with a ceiling height too low for comfortable living. A basement, particularly in the mid-20th century bungalows found in many Ottawa neighbourhoods, can be a very smart place to start.

You could also work room by room or address a portion of your home, perhaps prioritizing the main living space or a home office / workspace. Prioritizing space that you occupy the most during waking hours will yield the biggest reward.

And frankly, it can be easier to tackle just a part of your home at a time if being out of your home for a long period and a much bigger, more costly renovation isn’t practical for you.

Key Components

If you can easily add insulation to the walls in your space, this will pay dividends, along with replacing exterior windows (and possibly exterior doors, if the room(s) involved have them) with much more energy efficient units.

The most important part of any energy conscious renovation/retrofit is the air-tightness. In the past we’ve written about the superb window and door options from Munster Joinery. These types of windows are three to four times more energy efficient than conventional ones and while they are extremely important, how they are installed matters just as much.

Hannoband multfunctional tape and window gasketUsing super energy efficient windows will only make a real difference if installed in a truly airtight manner. Conventional spray foam around windows will usually disintegrate less than five years after the initial installation, creating significant gaps that result in energy loss.

Passive windows should be installed with an expandable rigid foam gasket designed to be airtight and watertight for the life of the home. We like Hannoband, which can be sourced from various suppliers, including Small Planet Supply.

Radiant floor heating is a very popular and smart option for retrospectively addressing heating in your living space. Concrete, tile and engineered hardwood are all options for covering your radiant heating system.

Hydroshark radiant floor systemWe’re big fans of the HydroShark radiant floor heating system from Stiebel Eltron:

“HydroShark radiant floor panels are a professional, modular system designed to make radiant floor installation simple, reliable, and easy.

Everything you need to install is already mounted to the HydroShark panel.”

Get full details from the Stiebel Eltron website. And ask us!

For efficient air exchange in a newly sealed living space, we recommend Minotair’s HRV unit. This unit will effectively control temperature, ventilation and humidity in your space, making for a very comfortable and healthy home.

When this system is installed with an integrated air source heat pump designed for a passive house environment, it also will have the capacity to heat the home when outdoor temperatures drop as low as -5°C. In this scenario, a HydroShark radiant floor system would only need to handle heating for a few months each year, when the outdoor temperature falls below -5°C.

Read more information on Minotair from Quebec and their HRV units on their website: minotair.com.

Real Savings for Heating & Cooling

The best part of this combined systems is the cost. The HydroShark costs under $5,000 which is less than half that of a conventional radiant floor system. The HydroShark system will also result in a 90% reduction in actual energy consumed, making the system pay for itself very quickly.

A Minotair system will total less than $8,500 installed, which is on par with the cost of a conventional air-conditioning / HRV unit.  In addition, it also comes with 90% energy savings in a passive environment, making it exceptionally cost effective.

Retrofitting to PassiveHouse

In this series we’ll next look at what’s involved in a complete retrofit of an older home to passive house standard.

Got a sustainable home building topic you’d like to see explored here? Let us know!

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
Ottawa home builder EkoBuilt at the Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Healthy Living

Save the date: Where you can meet with EkoBuilt this spring

Heading towards spring, we want to be sure you are aware of the show schedule for EkoBuilt, as well as our next planned open house at the EkoModel Home just west of Ottawa.

Ottawa Home & Garden Show
EY Centre, Ottawa
March 21 – 24, 2019

(And yes, we’ll have tickets to giveaway for that show closer to the time!)

Spring EkoModel Home Open House
96 Libbys Road, McNab/Braeside, ON K7S 0E1
Sat, April 6, 2019
9am – 3pm

Healthy Brain and Body Show
EY Centre, Ottawa
May 4 – 5, 2019 (FREE)

Live the Smart Way
RA Centre, Ottawa
May 11 – 12, 2019 (Tickets $5 and help to support The Royal Mental Health – Care and Research)

Do let us know what you’re planning to attend, we’d love to see you there.

A rocking chair in a room of the EkoModel Home
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Passive House resources

EkoBuilt Open House this Saturday

We’ve had tremendous feedback on our Open House at the EkoModel Home this Saturday, 26 January 2019. Paul Kealey is already fully booked for conversations with some of you throughout the day; if you haven’t snagged a time to speak with Paul, don’t worry, there is still much to come out for:

  • 12.30 – 1pm will feature a presentation on sustainable home building by a team from Algonquin College
  • The whole day will be a super opportunity to look over and feel what it’s like to be in a passive home built with care and quality materials
  • If you’re lucky, you may get a few minutes to speak with EkoBuilt’s Paul Kealey, but if not don’t worry, you can follow up with a phone call or arrange a meeting. EkoBuilt will also be an exhibitor at three shows in Ottawa this spring and will run another Open House at the EkoModel Home in April.

EkoModel Home Open House
Sat, January 26th, 2019
9am to 3pm
96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, ON K7S 0E1

Please come to feel and see for yourself the incredible comfort of a beautifully built Passive House.

EkoBuilt’s demonstration PassiveHouse was built on a 10-acre property just west of Ottawa during 2016. This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms.

Spring 2019 Trade Show Schedule

Come out to see the EkoBuilt team and offerings at these shows in spring 2019:

EkoBuilt passive house
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, EkoModel News, Passive House resources

Sat, Jan 26th next EkoModel Home Open House

One of the top questions we regularly receive is when our next Open House will be at the EkoModel Home, our passive house demonstration property (4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2500 sq ft) just west of Ottawa. Mark your calendars!

EkoModel Home Open House
Sat, January 26th, 2019
9am to 3pm
96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, ON K7S 0E1

Please come to feel and see for yourself the incredible comfort of a beautifully built Passive House.

EkoBuilt’s demonstration PassiveHouse was built on a 10-acre property just west of Ottawa during 2016. This 2,506 square foot home includes 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and beautiful, sun-filled rooms.

Christmas greetings from EkoBuilt
EkoBuilt News

Season’s Greetings!

It’s been a whirlwind year on many fronts, and we’re so delighted to have grown the base of people who are following along on this journey of sustainability.

We’re excited to start 2019 with our passive townhome development in Perth, Ontario, many new custom home builds and packages, and an ever growing base of folks interested in Eko Communities.

We’ll be renewing our commitment to regular, informative blog posts, with a new expanded series on retrofitting existing homes.

Please continue to join us right here, through our mailing list, and on Facebook, and of course we look forward to seeing you at trade shows and when we next open the doors of the EkoModel Home.

For you and yours we wish the very best in 2019.

What is a smart home anyway?
Energy Efficiency, Home Building trends, Passive House facts, Simply Sustainable

Measuring how smart a home really is

When we talk about ‘smart homes’, there is a general bias towards technology. Consider this definition:

Standard smart home definition: noun “a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer.”

At EkoBuilt, we see the smartness in homes very differently, using a sustainability lens.

EkoBuilt smart home definition: noun “a home designed to be autonomous without the use of electronic devices for heating or ventilation control.”

We also think the smartest homes can be affordably net-zero, taking their energy from renewable energy sources. Truly there is much confusion over what a smart home really is. Conventional thinking holds that a ‘smart home’ is one that uses more technology for control. But is that really very smart?

Shouldn’t a truly smart home need less technology?

We feel that a smart home is one that uses the least technology possible. It’s possible to design homes that don’t require all kinds of devices for control.

For example, a home should not need to be heated when the occupants are not there, and blinds should not be required because unwanted heat needs to be kept out. In a true passive house excess technology is not required because the space requires little heating or air-conditioning to be comfortable.

Using energy from the sun as a heat source, the home can be heated naturally even in extremely cold conditions. To reduce the need for air conditioning in hot summers, windows are strategically located to naturally shade themselves so unwanted heat is not coming into the home. This is a smart home!

It is more sustainable, and much smarter to use less technology, both environmentally and physically. There is simply no need to have a wi-fi thermostat. Why spend money to operate a furnace in an occupied or unoccupied home when you don’t have to? It is smart to spend as little money and to acquire as few devices for your home as possible.

Why passive homes are the smartest homes

Our point is of course, to communicate the intelligence of building to the passive house standard. It is, after all, the only truly resilient home known to man.

It is a home that uses so little fuel to heat and cool the space that the electric bills are approximately the same amount every month of the year, whether the home is being heated or not.

Not to be coy, every house, even a passive house, requires a heating system – especially in this part of Canada – but the passive house leaks so little heat (even during extreme cold conditions) that it costs very little to keep the space heated. Less energy, in fact, than a refrigerator uses in a year. Now, that’s a smart home.

Ever compared your home to a thermos?

Thermos passive house analogyA passive house is as close as you can get to living in a thermos! The key difference is the passive space has constant access to fresh air, while a thermos does not.

Seriously though – a good thermos can keep keep tea extremely hot for 24 hours, which is really quite unbelievable when you think about it. Well, a passive house is basically the same thing in a home. And that really is a smart home.

From a health perspective, it’s much safer to live in an environment virtually free of interior toxins or exterior pollution (propane or gas emissions), full of ample fresh air, and designed to last generations. Again, that’s a smart home.

Another vital feature of a truly smart home is that it be electrically operated. We’ve come to the point where a home designed to operate by propane and/or gas, is a home designed for the past. Fossil fuels are not the way forward. Homes for today and tomorrow need to be 100% electrically operated — it’s simply the only fuel source for sustainability. It’s also the best for our health and for our pocketbooks.

A home that helps to create a healthier environment is a home that is healthier for us, and energy savings translate into lower operating costs, and that means more money in our pockets.

In conclusion, a truly smart home designed for today should be one that is built to passive house standards. Realistically, every home in the near future will be required to be built this way, but why wait when you can start now!

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about building your passive home.

Perth Ontario townhomes for sale by EkoBuilt
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, House Design, Passive House resources

Net Zero Perth Townhomes Selling – Don’t Delay!

We’ve been delighted with the interest in EkoBuilt’s development of five townhomes in the PerthWorks Community in historic Perth, Ontario. Two units have already been claimed, leaving only two middle and one end unit for prospective buyers.

Photo from Downtown Heritage Perth

These units represent exceptional value – $289k for an end unit, $279k for a middle unit – for homes that will be net zero in their energy consumption and built to the Passive House standard.

Situated centrally in charming Perth, homeowners will be able to enjoy all that the town has to offer as well as being within commuting distance of Ottawa.

click to enlarge

EkoBuilt is working with homeowners to fully customize their units’ plans to best suit their needs and lifestyle.

The sample floorplans we offer are a great starting point and make tremendous use of the nearly 2,000 square feet of living space on these two-storey towns.

December 2019 Occupancy

Purchase contracts to be finalized by late February 2019, groundbreaking in May 2019, occupancy December 2019.

Purchasing your new home in Perth can be a reality that quickly.

Get all the details from the Perth Town Homes for Sale section on our website, and then please do get in touch. We’re here to answer your questions!

 

Ottawa passive house model by EkoBuilt
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, Passive House resources

Come out to visit the EkoModel Home this Weekend

We’ll be throwing open our doors from 9am to 3pm this coming weekend as part of International Passive House Days 2018. We’ve heard from many of you about your plans to attend, and we can’t wait to meet you!

Remember we’re giving away another Cartier tabletop fire feature from Eco-Feu this weekend. Details here.

EkoModel Home

The EkoModel Home, which showcases our Passive House offering and one of 13 super energy efficient house plans, is located just west of Ottawa:

96 Libbys Road
McNab/Braeside, ON K7S 0E1

Ottawa area construction company hiring
EkoBuilt News

Looking for more construction & carpentry help

We’re still looking for more help with our Ottawa / Eastern Ontario construction projects.

The ideal candidate will have a minimum two years of experience in a related field and come with a positive, self-motivated attitude, however anyone with a good work ethic is welcome to contact us. We look forward to hearing from interested individuals.

If you’re interested or know someone who might be, please get in touch or share our details:

Paul Kealey, EkoBuilt
Toll-Free: (855) 890-1222 | Local: (613) 227-4663
E-mail: info@ekobuilt.com

Perth Ontario townhomes for sale by EkoBuilt
EkoBuilt News & Happenings, House Design, Passive House resources

5 EkoBuilt Townhomes for Sale in Perth

EkoBuilt is undertaking a unique development of five townhomes in the PerthWorks Community in historic Perth, Ontario. These five super energy efficient town homes for sale will be freehold, and will be connected to net-metering, resulting in incredibly low monthly utility fees (approx $40/month). We’re aiming for Passive House certification on the units, and each will include EV plugs inside the integrated garage, drain water heat recovery, and much more.

Perth Works Community MapPositioned just four blocks from Perth’s downtown core, the units will be part of the revitalized PerthWorks development. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a community development that will have many appealing features.

All 5 units will be fully customizable – you decide on the floorplan that will best fit your lifestyle and needs. You can even decide to convert the planned integrated garage into more living space if that works better for you.

With nearly 2,000 sq ft of living space, these Perth town homes will be spacious and comfortable and have the quality associated with every EkoBuilt home build.

Purchase contracts to be finalized by late February 2019, groundbreaking in May 2019, occupancy December 2019.

Don’t miss out! Get all the details on the 5 EkoBuilt Townhomes.

Visit the EkoModel Home during Passive House Days

We’re delighted to hear that so many of you plan to come out for a visit during Passive House Days 2018. If you’re interested in the Perth development, this is an excellent chance to see and experience an EkoBuilt passive home in person.

Passive House Days, 9 – 11 November 2018
9am to 4pm all 3 days

Visit the EkoModel Home
96 Libbys Road
McNab-Braeside (just west of Ottawa)